It’s a tough life being a cricket fan in the USA; no coverage on television and sometimes even TMS is blocked if the rights aren’t available over here. In desperation, I’ve had to resort to watching baseball. This wasn’t so bad when we were in Seattle. Although the Mariners are pretty awful, at least I’ve seen the Red Sox play live and I enjoyed watching Ichiro single mindedly collect hits one single at a time. Now we live in deepest darkest Georgia and only have terrible Minor League (actually the most minor of the minor leagues) baseball available.
When we were visiting Vancouver, BC a few years ago, we stopped to watch a cricket match taking place in Stanley Park. We were chatting to one of the fielders and he tried to sign me up for his team, despite my living four hours drive away in a different country. They must have been truly desperate. Still, I was flattered. And pleased that I didn’t have to demonstrate my non-skills.
Anyway, fast forward to last week, when I discovered that the West Indies and New Zealand were playing a couple of T20s in Florida. Naturally, being a fan of neither side, not liking T20 and living eight hours drive away in a different state, I leapt at the chance to attend.
We don’t have a good record with sports over here. We went to the Daytona 500, only to find out we’d chosen to attend the one time in its history that the race was rained off. So that was fun. We did get to see trucks towing jet engines around trying to dry the track out though. I dare say that most of the patrons of NASCAR wouldn’t be prepared to make the usual American wisecracks about the quality of British teeth, though.
Actually, it rains all the sodding time here in the South. I’ve never experienced so many thunderstorms in my life. If you’ve ever watched the Masters Golf and wondered why they play it when the weather is like that, it’s because they have no choice unless they want to play in December.
This time, Tropical Storm Debby had been hanging around all week, flooding most of the surrounding area, so we were prepared for bad weather. Predictably, it was roasting hot and we got rather sunburnt.
We chose to stay in a budget hotel in Fort Lauderdale. It certainly attracted an interesting clientele; a heady mix of prostitutes (the lady in front of us when we were checking in was trying to rent a room by the hour) and drug dealers. It had almost no cockroaches in it. We won’t be returning. We encountered one of our fellow guests begging outside the pharmacy next door to get money for the vending machine in the hotel lobby.
The game was being played in a 20,000 capacity stadium custom built for cricket. Given that the only ‘proper’ cricket grounds I’ve ever been to are Grace Road and the County Ground, Derby, I’m rather provincial and I was actually quite impressed. Not sure why it’s been built in Florida. I made sure to wear my Antigua T-shirt on the off-chance that Viv Richards or Curtly Ambrose were in attendance (if they were, I didn’t see them). I was secretly rooting for New Zealand, anyway.
I had a Banks beer at the ground, disappointingly not the Marston’s bitter but some mediocre Barbadian lager, but it went well with chicken roti. I spent some time trying to get a photo of a player with the word Cock behind him.
On the way home we made our now traditional post-Florida visit stop at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Jacksonville. This time I sensibly chose ‘Wild’ flavour; a previous experiment with ‘Blazin’ had left me almost blind and incapable of driving until my eyesight fully returned. Pro tip – don’t wipe your face with a napkin that’s previously been used to wipe off ridiculously strong chilli sauce.